Sunday, February 23, 2014

Miserable bankers

Note most of the research for the book from which this article originates took place during the post-credit crisis bust for financiers. Still the best risk-adjusted path to $5-10 M net worth.

See also Creators and Rulers and From physics to Goldman to Y-Combinator.
Atlantic: ... Jeremy, for instance, had arrived at Goldman thinking that his specific job—trading commodities derivatives—could make the world a teensy bit better by allowing large companies to hedge their costs, and pass savings along to customers. But one day, his boss pulled him aside and told him that, in effect, he’d been na├»ve.

“We’re not here to save the world,” the boss said. “We exist to make money.”

The British economist Roger Bootle has written about the difference between “creative” and “distributive” work. Creative work, Bootle says, is work that brings something new into the world that adds to the total available to everyone (a doctor treating patients, an artist making sculptures). Distributive work, on the other hand, only carries the possibility of beating out competitors and winning a bigger share of a fixed-size market. Bootle explains that although many jobs in modern society consist of distributive work, there is something intrinsically happier about a society that skews in favor of the creative.

“There are some people who may derive active delight from the knowledge that their working life is devoted to making sure that someone else loses, but most people do not function that way,” he writes. “They like to have a sense of worth, and that sense usually comes from the belief that they are contributing to society.”

During my interviews with young bankers, I heard a lot of them express this exact sentiment. They wanted to do something, make something, add something to the world, instead of simply serving as well-paid financial intermediaries at giant investment banks. It doesn’t hurt that creative jobs—including, but not limited to, jobs with Silicon Valley tech companies—are now considered sexier and more socially acceptable than Wall Street jobs, which still carry the stigma of the financial crisis. At one point, during the Occupy Wall Street protests, Jeremy told me that he had begun camouflaging his Goldman affiliation in public. ...

1 comment:

chartreuse1737 said...

yes. there is a lot of good rocket scientists can do, and that includes derivatives. it's just that that the genuine value gs and others create is a smaller and smaller fraction of their income. blankfein on charlie rose gave the, to me, obvious excuse that as the total market in securities increases revenues from trading must increase and that few will buy without the liquidity afforded by this trading. but i believe that the majority of ipos in the last decade have been exits from lbos, that is, the selling of companies which were taken private.

the free market is imperfect. it is possible to make a fortune, many fortunes, without actually making anyone else richer. the question for the left is can man, who is also imperfect, govern his economic affairs any better than the market. the answer is he can but it requires an open society of the popper soros variety. that government usually makes things worse isn't a reason for less government as long as government can change, evolve.

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